It all started with a Net hunt.

You remember Net hunts, right? Mad scrambles around the web? Coaxing obscure information out of cranky, infant search engines? This particular hunt — a marketing machine for the 1995 movie, Johnny Mnemonic [an awful movie] — was produced by a tiny-but-way-hip company called Vivid Studios, a pioneer company in the heart of S.F.’s growing multimedia gulch. What particularly struck me about this hunt was the instant on-line community that formed around it… a fascinating group of geeky competitors playing a game of one-upsmanship, and shared aggravation. The hunt was challenging and mildly rewarding… the community, though, was an *amazing* virtual village sprung up around a common experience. Vivid clearly understood the relevance of the community.

After the hunt was over I got in touch with the folks responsible… Drue Miller, then writer and web-mistress [now a very talented independent information designer] and Nathan Shedroff, a founding partner of the company, and its Creative Director. Nathan has been a significant contributor to the field of information architecture, and I’ve enjoyed comparing notes with him at conferences. Nathan’s just authored a very interesting book, “Experience Design”. I’ve only just peered between its covers, but already it’s clear that this is *not* your typical “IA is a serious discipline” body of work. Instead it attempts to express specific concepts of designing for the user experience by, well… by being something of an experience itself. It’s an experiment, I think, to convey rich media materials in print form. Why? Maybe because people *buy* books, while they tend to not buy access to online materials. Unless, of course, they’re pornographic.

Which is an interesting coincidence: Vivid Studios suffered through a couple of buy-out / buy-back struggles… what’s left of it is now part of Modem Media. The original Vivid domain? It’s now owned by a porn company. Gack.

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